The final whistle may have blown for thousands of community sport clubs with the coronavirus ravaging their funding and volunteers, a survey has found.
About a quarter of the nation's 70,000 grassroots clubs say they will be forced to call time if the state of play continues for another six months.
According to the Australian Sports Foundation survey, local groups have lost about $1.6 billion to the pandemic so far and fear costs will mount the longer it lasts.
The cost per club is less overwhelming, with small clubs with fewer than 1000 members and $250,000 in annual revenue losing about $10,394 each.
Large clubs, which represent about 33 per cent of all sporting groups, have lost an average of $13,367.
However, ASF chief executive Patrick Walker says the demise of local clubs threatens not only a community's physical fitness but also its mental health.
"These clubs are about more than the sport itself, they are the lifeblood of communities all over Australia," Mr Walker says.
Sports-playing Australians surveyed for a concurrent joint study report COVID-19 is having a negative impact on their health, particularly among young people.
About 32 per cent of 13- to 17-year-olds felt their general health was worse in May compared with a year earlier while overall, 31 per cent reported poorer mental health.
Despite restrictions being lifted across most states, the majority of clubs believe the worst is yet to come, particularly in Victoria where winter sporting competitions will be cancelled due to the state's second wave of infections.
And with record unemployment, habits broken and health concerns, grassroots clubs believe it could take years for them to recover.
At least 70 per cent of small local clubs think they'll lose players, with 42 per cent predicting a decline in volunteers, the backbone of all grassroots sports.
The Bairnsdale and District Amateur Basketball Association, in East Gippsland, has been hit hard over the past year by the twin disasters of bushfires and COVID-19.
At its peak, the club had around 300 members but numbers are now uncertain, with many members struggling to pay registration fees.
Club president Dean Ryan says nearly every shop in the decimated regional town is closed.
"We've had absolutely no income coming in since early March."
He fears young people are losing out on the structure and outlet of team sports.
"It will affect their self-esteem, their self-confidence, their mental stability. They are stuck at home 24/7, it's really hard for them at the moment."
Local Indigenous players will be the hardest hit, he adds, as the team usually pays for their tournament accommodation, fees and equipment.
The ASF has calculated about $1.2 billion in cash is needed to support the clubs most at risk, with at least $300 million needed within three months and a further $400 million within six months.
Mr Walker says the clubs would need support from the top end of town to avoid "widespread social dislocation".
He is calling on philanthropic groups to contribute to the ASF's fundraising campaign to help the charity preserve as many clubs as it can.